Saturday, September 29, 2018

Something to Know - 29 September

News flies around through various media or conversation.   We can grab and devour what we want.  This one catches my attention.  The attached narrative is from a good friend who always is cool and honest.  It is actually a conversation involving a news source at NBC News, so there is an element of reliability.  It takes us to a whole layer below of what we saw Brett Kavanaugh on TV the other day.  This is the nether world of the SWAMP:

Sent: Sat, Sep 29, 2018 at 7:20 AM
Subject: A reading about Kavanaugh from a whole new source
Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses, beard and closeup
Robbin Wood
David Brock on NBC: "I used to know Brett Kavanaugh pretty well. And, when I think of Brett now, in the midst of his hearings for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, all I can think of is the old "Aesop's Fables" adage: "A man is known by the company he keeps." And that's why I want to tell any senator who cares about our democracy: Vote no. Twenty years ago, when I was a conservative movement stalwart, I got to know Brett Kavanaugh both professionally and personally. Brett actually makes a cameo appearance in my memoir of my time in the GOP, "Blinded By The Right." I describe him at a party full of zealous young conservatives gathered to watch President Bill Clinton's 1998 State of the Union address — just weeks after the story of his affair with a White House intern had broken. When the TV camera panned to Hillary Clinton, I saw Brett — at the time a key lieutenant of Ken Starr, the independent counsel investigating various Clinton scandals — mouth the word "bitch."
But there's a lot more to know about Kavanaugh than just his Pavlovian response to Hillary's image. Brett and I were part of a close circle of cold, cynical and ambitious hard-right operatives being groomed by GOP elders for much bigger roles in politics, government and media. And it's those controversial associations that should give members of the Senate and the American public serious pause.
Call it Kavanaugh's cabal: There was his colleague on the Starr investigation, Alex Azar, now the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Mark Paoletta is now chief counsel to Vice President Mike Pence; House anti-Clinton gumshoe Barbara Comstock is now a Republican member of Congress. Future Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson were there with Ann Coulter, now a best-selling author, and internet provocateur Matt Drudge.
At one time or another, each of them partied at my Georgetown townhouse amid much booze and a thick air of cigar smoke. In a rough division of labor, Kavanaugh played the role of lawyer — one of the sharp young minds recruited by the Federalist Society to infiltrate the federal judiciary with true believers. Through that network, Kavanaugh was mentored by D.C. Appeals Court Judge Laurence Silberman, known among his colleagues for planting leaks in the press for partisan advantage.
When, as I came to know, Kavanaugh took on the role of designated leaker to the press of sensitive information from Starr's operation, we all laughed that Larry had taught him well. (Of course, that sort of political opportunism by a prosecutor is at best unethical, if not illegal.)
Another compatriot was George Conway (now Kellyanne's husband), who led a secretive group of right-wing lawyers — we called them "the elves" — who worked behind the scenes directing the litigation team of Paula Jones, who had sued Clinton for sexual harassment. I knew then that information was flowing quietly from the Jones team via Conway to Starr's office — and also that Conway's go-to man was none other than Brett Kavanaugh.
That critical flow of inside information allowed Starr, in effect, to set a perjury trap for Clinton, laying the foundation for a crazed national political crisis and an unjust impeachment over a consensual affair.
But the cabal's godfather was Ted Olson, the then-future solicitor general for George W. Bush and now a sainted figure of the GOP establishment (and of some liberals for his role in legalizing same-sex marriage). Olson had a largely hidden role as a consigliere to the "Arkansas Project" — a multi-million dollar dirt-digging operation on the Clintons, funded by the eccentric right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife and run through The American Spectator magazine, where I worked at the time.
Both Ted and Brett had what one could only be called an unhealthy obsession with the Clintons — especially Hillary. While Ted was pushing through the Arkansas Project conspiracy theories claiming that Clinton White House lawyer and Hillary friend Vincent Foster was murdered (he committed suicide), Brett was costing taxpayers millions by peddling the same garbage at Starr's office.
A detailed analysis of Kavanaugh's own notes from the Starr Investigation reveals he was cherry-picking random bits of information from the Starr investigation — as well as the multiple previous investigations — attempting vainly to legitimize wild right-wing conspiracies. For years he chased down each one of them without regard to the emotional cost to Foster's family and friends, or even common decency.
Kavanaugh was not a dispassionate finder of fact but rather an engineer of a political smear campaign. And after decades of that, he expects people to believe he's changed his stripes.
Like millions of Americans this week, I tuned into Kavanaugh's hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee with great interest. In his opening statement and subsequent testimony, Kavanaugh presented himself as a "neutral and impartial arbiter" of the law. Judges, he said, were not players but akin to umpires — objectively calling balls and strikes. Again and again, he stressed his "independence" from partisan political influences.
But I don't need to see any documents to tell you who Kavanaugh is — because I've known him for years. And I'll leave it to all the lawyers to parse Kavanaugh's views on everything from privacy rights to gun rights.
But I can promise you that any pretense of simply being a fair arbiter of the constitutionality of any policy regardless of politics is simply a pretense. He made up his mind nearly a generation ago — and, if he's confirmed, he'll have nearly two generations to impose it upon the rest of us."


"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain

Friday, September 28, 2018

Something to Know - 28 September

Lalo Alcaraz Comic Strip for September 28, 2018

Wasn't just yesterday that #45 was all mixed in with the cacophony of noise from the GOP that Christine Blasey-Ford was a Democratic Party sham?  Now his nominee is damaged goods after his sniveling and egregious display of non-judicial sober temperament?  Typical Trump - let your once-close fellow travelers dangle in the wind.   If Kavanaugh is smart, he will pick up his note binder, and withdraw.  A full FBI investigation of the allegations may reveal him not credible and may have consequences as to what he may have said on the investigation and confirmation process he went through to obtain his present job.   Interesting times:

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Trump tells GOP to "do what they think is right" on Kavanaugh
President Trump told reporters Friday that Republican senators "have to do what they think is right" on the Brett Kavanaugh vote, adding that he found Christine Blasey Ford's testimony to be "very credible."
Read on Axios



"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain

Andy Borowitz

Jeff Flake Announces Retirement from Humanity

Photograph by Win McNamee / Getty

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In an announcement that many saw coming, Senator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, announced on Friday that he would retire from humanity, effective immediately.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Flake said that the demands of being a human being had "taken their toll," and that it was "time to move on."

"Having empathy and compassion for other human beings has been a thoroughly draining experience," he said. "I for one am ready for something new."

Flake said that, before making his decision, he consulted with others who had retired from humanity years earlier, such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Donald Trump.

"They all fully supported my decision," he said. "It's great to be one of them no


"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Andy Borowitz

Republican Party Declares Moral Bankruptcy


Photograph by Chip Somodevilla / Getty

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The Republican Party officially filed for moral bankruptcy on Tuesday morning, a move that many in the nation considered long overdue.

In filing for moral bankruptcy, the Republicans will formally attest that they have no morals, standards, or ethics on their balance sheet, and will agree to cease all activity as a political party in exchange for indemnity from any and all legal actions.

Harland Dorrinson, a Washington attorney who specializes in moral bankruptcies, said that, by making its moral vacuum official, the G.O.P. could theoretically break itself up and sell off the parts, but, he warned, "There are no buyers."

"From Lindsey Graham to Ted Cruz to Mitch McConnell to Chuck Grassley, all of the Republican Party's assets could only be described as toxic," he said. "Their breakup value is zero."

Further complicating such a sale, Dorrinson said, is the fact that the lion's share of the Republican Party is already owned by the National Rifle Association, Koch Industries, and the Russian government.

"All of those entities are going to take a major loss on their investment," he warned. "The Kochs have been trying to sell Paul Ryan for months, and they can't give him away."

While bemoaning the demise of a once legitimate political party, Dorrinson did see one silver lining. "The bankruptcy of the Republican Party will be presided over by Donald Trump, and no one has more experience in this area," he said.


"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain

Monday, September 24, 2018

Something to Know - 24 September

Paul Szep Comic Strip for September 21, 2018

Trump's Growing Legal Team Has a Problem: It's Operating Partly in the Dark

While letting the Senate Judiciary committee and the Kavanaugh matter play out, let's take up the matter of Trump and his legal woes.   #45 is in bad shape.  Most of his close business associates, the ones who were known as his personal attorney and the chief accountant of Trump Inc. are now known as flipped and cooperating.   The legal team he has now hired are all replacements who know nothing first-hand from Cohen or Weinstein, or others who ran the books and funneled the money.   The lawyers who now represent Trump know only what Trump has told them, and that is where the problem lies.  Trump is not known for telling the truth, which is a nice way of saying he is a serial liar.   Sooner or later, the truth will come forward, and Trump is in line to fail the test.

By Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt

WASHINGTON — Nearly a dozen lawyers now assist President Trump in contending with two federal investigations, one in Washington and one in New York, that could pose serious threats to his presidency and his businesses. But the expanding legal team is struggling to understand where the investigations could be headed and the extent of Mr. Trump's legal exposure.

The lawyers have only a limited sense of what many witnesses — including senior administration officials and the president's business associates — have told investigators and what the Justice Department plans to do with any incriminating information it has about Mr. Trump, according to interviews with more than a dozen people close to the president.

What is more, it is not clear if Mr. Trump has given his lawyers a full account of some key events in which he has been involved as president or during his decades running the Trump Organization.

Another potential problem for Mr. Trump emerged Friday when his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to corruption charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

It is not publicly known what, if any, damaging information about the president Mr. Manafort can give prosecutors — Mr. Trump's lawyers insist he has none — but his cooperation brings a new level of uncertainty. Mr. Manafort spent considerable time with Mr. Trump and his family during the 2016 presidential campaign, including attending a meeting with Russians offering negative information on Hillary Clinton, and has had extensive business dealings with Russians close to the Kremlin.

His plea brings to four the number of former close associates of Mr. Trump who have agreed to cooperate with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election and obstruction of justice by the president. And while Mr. Trump's lawyers insist Mr. Mueller has nothing on their client about colluding with Russia, they are bracing for him to write a damaging report to Congress about whether the president obstructed justice.

The sense of unease among the president's lawyers can be traced, in part, to their client. Mr. Trump has repeatedly undermined his position by posting on Twitter or taking other actions that could add to the obstruction case against him. But those close to the president also blame the strategy pursued by the first head of his legal team, John Dowd, to cooperate fully with Mr. Mueller while negotiating few concessions.

By early this year, the president had concluded that the strategy Mr. Dowd promised would help bring the Mueller investigation to a quick conclusion had failed, and shortly afterward, he was gone.

Mr. Trump's expanded and reconstituted legal team is now dealing far more aggressively with Mr. Mueller. But only in recent weeks, when it was reported that the soon-to-depart White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, spent at least 30 hours with Mr. Mueller's investigators, have Mr. Trump's lawyers fully understood just how much of an advantage Mr. Mueller gained because of Mr. Dowd's initial strategy.

Mr. Dowd took Mr. Trump at his word that he had done nothing wrong and never conducted a full internal investigation to determine the president's true legal exposure. During Mr. Dowd's tenure, prosecutors interviewed at least 10 senior administration officials without Mr. Trump's lawyers first learning what the witnesses planned to say, or debriefing their lawyers afterward — a basic step that could have given the president's lawyers a view into what Mr. Mueller had learned. And once Mr. Dowd was gone, the new legal team had to spend at least 20 hours interviewing the president about the episodes under investigation, another necessary step Mr. Dowd and his associates had apparently not completed.

"President Trump has been ill served by a legal team that failed to negotiate access, debrief and prep witnesses, constrain information flow and manage expectations," said Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump's former chief strategist, an opinion shared by many friends of the president's. "He finds himself in a legal mess today because of their incompetence."

New questions about the president's first legal team arose after the journalist Bob Woodward's new book "Fear," was published this month. The book said that Mr. Dowd believed that Mr. Trump was a liar who was not capable of answering questions from Mr. Mueller. And in a meeting with prosecutors, Mr. Dowd said nearly as much, Mr. Woodward reported, telling Mr. Mueller that the president would most likely provide a false statement in an interview.

Mr. Dowd has told associates that he believed the president when he told him he had done nothing wrong, and that he had to cooperate because he would not have prevailed in court if he fought Mr. Mueller's requests to interview witnesses or obtain documents. But he declined several requests to be interviewed about his legal strategy.

In a short email on Monday, Mr. Dowd said: "None of this true. You have been badly misinformed." When asked again if he would get on the phone with reporters, he said, "No thanks."

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's replacement for Mr. Dowd, acknowledged that given the benefit of hindsight, "I think I would have done it differently."

"But," he added, "now we can work with the fact that there was such complete cooperation."

Mr. Giuliani said that following a different strategy would have come "if I knew then that Mueller would not keep his word." But he added that Mr. Dowd's efforts "put us in a good position to resist a subpoena because there is no 'particularized need' for the president's testimony."

Mr. Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate links between Mr. Trump's campaign and Russia, but the more time the president has spent in office, the more his legal problems have grown.

Even after Mr. Mueller's appointment, Mr. Trump did things like ask witnesses about what they told Mr. Mueller's investigators and put out misleading statements about contacts between his campaign and Russia, which appear to have deepened the special counsel's examination of possible obstruction.

In April, the president suddenly was confronted with a second legal front. Agents in New York raided the offices of his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, as part of an investigation into secret payments made during the campaign to silence women who said they had had affairs with the president — a campaign finance violation. In pleading guilty, Mr. Cohen said in court that Mr. Trump directed him to make the payments.

To deal with two simultaneous investigations, Mr. Trump has a patchwork of lawyers divided into separate teams inside and outside the White House, in Washington and in New York. Coordinating the group is Jay Sekulow, a prominent conservative lawyer who also works with Mr. Giuliani to manage the president's perpetual furor over the inquiries.

The more confrontational stance toward Mr. Mueller was enhanced by the hiring in May of Emmet T. Flood, a seasoned litigator who helped defend President Bill Clinton in his impeachment proceedings. Mr. Flood has opposed Mr. Mueller's request to interview John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, and the indication from the special counsel's office this month that it would accept written responses from the president on questions about ties between his campaign and Russia was seen as a ratification of the strategy.

The approach was a contrast to the initial, more cooperative phase of the president's defense begun in June 2017 when Mr. Dowd first met Mr. Trump in the Oval Office. Mr. Dowd, who had come out of retirement to help one of the president's longtime personal lawyers, Marc E. Kasowitz, offered a quick solution to the president's legal problems.

Mr. Dowd explained that he had a special bond with Mr. Mueller because they had both served in the Marine Corps, and that he thought he could get him to end the investigation in a matter of weeks. Mr. Dowd said that he thought that he might even get the Justice Department to declare that Mr. Trump was not under investigation.

All the president had to do, Mr. Dowd said, was cooperate with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump, often enticed by promises of speedy and simple fixes to complex problems, embraced Mr. Dowd's thinking.

In the months after Mr. Dowd's arrival, Mr. Kasowitz, who had never intended to serve as the president's chief lawyer, saw his influence at the White House wane. Mr. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka Trump grew wary of him, particularly as Mr. Kushner became a focal point of news articles about where Mr. Mueller's inquiry might lead.

A tipping point for the makeshift team came that July, when The New York Times broke the news of the meeting that Mr. Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and other Trump aides, including Mr. Kushner, held during the 2016 campaign with Russians offering dirt on Mrs. Clinton.

The haphazard and misleading response to the news — including a statement dictated by Mr. Trump himself — led to finger-pointing in the Trump camp and to Mr. Kasowitz's departure. And with Mr. Dowd in control, he brought in another longtime Washington lawyer, Ty Cobb, who helped move ahead with the strategy of cooperation with Mr. Mueller by turning over tens of thousands of White House documents.

Mr. Cobb also predicted a quick end to the investigation. "I'd be embarrassed if this is still haunting the White House by Thanksgiving and worse if it's still haunting him by year end," Mr. Cobb was quoted as saying.

But Mr. Dowd's personal relationship with Mr. Mueller never developed, and he began clashing with the special counsel's office over whether Mr. Trump would be interviewed. Mr. Dowd has since said that he believes Mr. Mueller "snookered" the Trump team into cooperating.

In March, Mr. Dowd resigned, telling associates that he disagreed with the president's desire to sit for an interview with Mr. Mueller — one form of cooperation he opposed — and leaving Mr. Sekulow with the task of rebuilding the legal team from scratch, and without knowing many of the details of the case. Mr. Dowd left few notes or files about the case, which had to be recreated months after the fact.

Because Mr. Trump and his advisers had concluded that the only real threat to him was impeachment, Mr. Giuliani was brought in to lead the effort to undermine Mr. Mueller's credibility with the public, while a husband and wife legal team, Jane and Marty Raskin, former federal prosecutors based in Florida, was hired to deal directly with Mr. Mueller's office. To deal with the investigation of Mr. Cohen in New York, Mr. Trump hired Joanna C. Hendon.

And with Mr. Flood brought on to replace Mr. Cobb, who had also departed, a new, more aggressive team had taken shape.

But if the policy of cooperation had ended, the turmoil among the lawyers had not.

Ten days after The Times reported that Mr. McGahn had cooperated extensively with Mr. Mueller, Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. McGahn would be leaving the White House in the fall. That came as a surprise to Mr. McGahn, who had not discussed his departure with Mr. Trump since earlier this year.

Since then, Mr. Trump has had discussions with Mr. Flood about replacing Mr. McGahn. But Mr. Flood is hesitant, in part because that could pull him away from one of the main reasons he initially joined the White House: to represent another president in impeachment proceedings.


"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain

Andy Borowitz

Grassley Spends Weekend Practicing Pretending-to-Listen Face

Photograph by Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg / Getty

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Facing the daunting challenge of appearing to pay attention to a woman's utterances during a televised hearing, Senator Charles Grassley spent the weekend rehearsing what aides are calling his "pretending to listen" face.

In round-the-clock practice sessions that aides characterized as "excruciating," the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee struggled to simulate even a trace of interest in what a woman had to say.

"Chuck has never pretended to listen to a woman before," an aide said. "These are uncharted waters."

According to the aide, Grassley's fake-listening skills "are rudimentary at best," and the senator was able to hold only a semi-attentive facial expression for seven seconds before it showed unmistakable signs of boredom, irritation, and contempt.

At one point, Grassley reportedly exploded with frustration, bellowing, "If I'd known that going into politics meant I'd have to listen to women, I'd have become a longshoreman."

Complicating the mock sessions further was the absence on the Judiciary Committee of any Republican women to whom Grassley could pretend to listen, forcing Senator Orrin Hatch to step uncomfortably into the role of a woman.


"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Something to Know - 19 September

This is what happens when an an unpopular supervisor berates his aircraft livery painter by telling him to "get the "F" outta here!"
Keep scrolling down........

  • Cathay-Pacific
  • Quiz plane recycle 8 cathay pacific


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Something to Know - 18 September

I thought that I had sent this out, but I could not find it anywhere in my outgoing mails, so here it is for the first time.  If it's the second time. please re-read it.    It is an interview that was done by the daughter of a friend of mine.   Michael Muller and I apparently became friends back in August of 1959 when we were on a trip to Canada and back (from the 1st Unitarian Church in Los Angeles).  I say "apparently" because after decades, I was sending messages all around to find if anyone was on the same Greyhound bus that stopped in Amarillo, Texas, and we found ourselves in the 1st sit-in of the Civil Rights era at a Woolworth's snack bar.   Michael Muller answered that question, saying "yes, I was on that same bus, and we were with the same group".  Long story, but we got hassled by the cops and got tossed back on the bus, because we had a person of color with us, and we were bound and determined to be served.   There are two attachments here.   The first is Michael Muller's draft interview, that is a hoot to read, and then the poem that Michael wrote regarding Amarillo.   Good reads:

ps - Michael lives in Ojai, and I live in Claremont.  We still have not seen each other since 1959.   The Internet brought us together, and kept the conversation alive.   Ojai and Michael are on my bucket list.


"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Something to Know - 16 September

Marshall Ramsey Comic Strip for September 13, 2018

This article is not sent as one more method of piling on poor Paul, but if you are like me and many others, you really have no clear understanding about the nether world of money laundering and dirty money deals.  Most of us consider ourselves as hard-working ethical working folks who are either retired, or really involved in making an honest living.   Tax fraud is shaving reported income or claiming inflated charitable contributions.  Venture into the dark world of international money laundering.  Off-Shore Banks in places like the Caymans, British Virgin Islands, Panama, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Cyprus are red-alerts for the Feds.  I would suggest that close investigation to any and all political operatives, and the president's cabinet who are in the international financial swamp stink of the same international fraud.  Understanding Paul is the first step in understanding Donald:

How a Ukrainian Hairdresser Became a Front for Paul Manafort

Yevgeny G. Kaseyev at work in Kiev, Ukraine, this month. He said he first became aware of his problem in 2007, when the authorities arrived seeking $30 million in back taxes.CreditCreditBrendan Hoffman for The New York Times

KIEV, Ukraine — At first glance, what happened to Yevgeny G. Kaseyev hardly seems like misfortune.

Without his knowledge, he says, unknown individuals set up multiple companies in his name and deposited tens of millions of dollars into those companies' bank accounts.

"Sometimes it seems fun," Mr. Kaseyev, a 34-year-old hairdresser, said with a shrug during an interview. "I'm a secret millionaire."

Until the authorities came calling, that is, seeking $30 million in back taxes.

One of the people who did business with a company opened under Mr. Kaseyev's stolen identity didn't mean anything to him. But the name certainly caught the eye of investigators in the United States: Paul J. Manafort.

Mr. Manafort, who worked for a decade as a political consultant in Ukraine before becoming chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016, made a deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with the shell company under the hairdresser's name. It was called Neocom Systems Limited, according to a Ukrainian lawmaker.

This was just one example of the kind of complex financial arrangements that caught the attention of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and led to Mr. Manafort pleading guilty to criminal charges on Friday in Federal District Court in Washington.

Looking into tax evasion by Mr. Manafort, Mr. Mueller's investigators found a web of offshore companies, some of which had directors who, like Mr. Kaseyev, did not even know their identities were being used.

Mr. Manafort was convicted in August on eight counts of financial fraud and evading taxes on millions of dollars he earned as a consultant for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. He avoided a second federal trial by pleading guilty on Friday to conspiracy to defraud the United States, largely through the use of offshore companies, and conspiracy to obstruct of justice.

There is nothing new about Mr. Manafort's use of shell companies to hide and launder money. Nor is it surprising that Mr. Manafort should seek to use the scheme of fake directors, say analysts of Ukrainian corruption. It is a common form of subterfuge in former Soviet states, though hardly unique to them.

But the role — and sometimes the plight — of the people whose identities were used has gone mostly unnoticed.

"It's a frequent problem," Daria Kalenyuk, chief of the Anticorruption Action Center here, said of the directors, who stand to take the fall if prosecutors investigate.

Sometimes the directors are lawyers or victims of identity theft, she said. But usually "it's people who are either alcoholics or in poor health, and who simply sell their passports for about $20."

One of the risks to this scheme is that the fake directors might try to claim the millions held in their names. But Ms. Kalenyuk could not recall one instance of such a claim.

"You need to have some knowledge and education to know how to do that," she said, in the tax havens like Cyprus or the British Virgin Islands, where such companies are typically established.

"Usually, they don't know how to do it," she added. "And even if they did, it's a risky business to take over a company from a powerful businessman engaged in corruption."

The companies set up with Mr. Kaseyev's identity had bland names like April Limited and Neocom Systems Limited. For example, in 2009, Mr. Manafort signed an invoice for $750,000 addressed to Mr. Kaseyev as director of Neocom Systems.

That was news to Mr. Kaseyev when the invoice was first revealedpublicly in 2017 by the Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy A. Leshchenko. At the time, Mr. Manafort's spokesman, Jason Maloni, suggested that the document might be fraudulent.

Neocom Systems did not come up at Mr. Manafort's first trial, nor was it mentioned in the plea agreement he signed on Friday. But Rick Gates, a former employee who became the star witness for the prosecution, testified that Ukrainian oligarchs had paid millions of dollars to Mr. Manafort through an array of offshore companies with obscure names like Novirex, Firemax and Telmar.

Mr. Kaseyev said he first became aware of his unwitting role in the creation of at least three Ukrainian front companies a decade ago, when the tax police contacted him in 2007 about his purported $30 million tax liability at Regional Insurance Union, a company he had never heard of. His passport had been stolen in a burglary a year earlier.

The scale of unpaid taxes, he said, suggested that there were larger sums moving through the company.

A slender, soft-spoken young man then just getting his start as a beautician, and hence unlikely to have amassed such wealth, Mr. Kaseyev said he was able to quickly convince the police of the identity theft. Yet the companies continued to be used in deals, and one, April Limited, still appears to be open for business, a corporate registry shows.

Some homeless men have achieved a measure of fame among activists who track corruption in the former Soviet states because they pop up so often at the head of multimillion dollar companies.

One man identified in the Ukrainian media as a homeless Latvian named Erik Vanagels has been listed as the owner of hundreds of companies in Britain, Cyprus, Ireland, New Zealand, Panama and elsewhere. Companies in the network also helped finance the private zoo and sprawling estate of the former Ukrainian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was the main client of Mr. Manafort.

Mr. Manafort's finances also intersected with companies of Mr. Vanagels and another Latvian whose name was used as a director, Stan Gorin. Among the murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership called Pericles that put together by Mr. Manafort and financed by a Russian oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, according to a Cayman Islands lawsuit and Cypriot corporate records.

Milltown Corporate Services, a front company in Mr. Gorin's name, for a time controlled the television assets.

In another notable case, the police in Ukraine last year questioned a barefoot man, Arkady Kashkin, who during interrogation accepted their offer of slices of pizza. He turned out to be named as a director of one of several related companies that had bought $1.5 billion in Ukrainian bonds, according to court records.

In that case, first reported by Al Jazeera, Ukrainian prosecutors said that an oligarch who has since fled to Russia, Serhiy V. Kurchenko, was the actual manager of the company registered in Mr. Kashkin's name. A judge fined Mr. Kashkin for willingly allowing his identity to be used in fraud.

Neocom Systems Limited, Mr. Kaseyev's company, which was opened a decade ago in the Central American nation of Belize, surfaced in relation to Mr. Manafort's dealings in early 2017, several months after the longtime Republican Party strategist had been pushed out as Mr. Trump's campaign manager over his Ukraine work.

The invoice had been left in the Kiev office of Mr. Manafort's political consulting business, Davis Manafort International. In the invoice, Mr. Kaseyev's name is transliterated into English as Evgeniy Kaseev.

Mr. Leshchenko, the Ukranian lawmaker, publicized the find after first providing the originals to the F.B.I. Mr. Leshchenko said that the company was a front and that Mr. Kaseyev had no control over its operations.

This was not the first time Neocom Systems had surfaced in a corruption investigation. In a 2012 money laundering and stock fraud case in Kyrgyzstan, the country's central bank listed it as a shell company used for payments by Asia Universal Bank, which was seized by Kyrgyz officials amid money laundering allegations.

It is not clear how much money, in total, passed through that company or through others opened in Mr. Kaseyev's name.

He now spends his days plying his trade at a beauty salon in Kiev for the equivalent of about $8 a haircut. He is also a certified colorist.

The best part of his day, he said, comes from seeing the new "sense of self-confidence" in his clients as they leave his chair, examining their fresh new look.


"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."
- John McCain